As the AP Tour rolls through DC this weekend, I got the chance to chat with The Summer Set‘s bassist, Stephen Gomez (second from left). It was a quick call, but we got to talk about the current tour, as well as Strike Gently and the band’s Hoodwinked set. It’s after the jump. Enjoy.
You’re on your off day right now right, so where are you actually?
Right now we’re driving from Milwaukee to Des Moines and then we’re going to Kansas City. So it’s not much of an “off day,” we’re still driving.
And you’re a founding member of the band, correct?
Yea. Myself and our guitar player John – he’s my brother – and Jess are the three people that we’ve been playing together since we were like fourteen.
So as a founding member I have to ask the obligatory, why start a band?
We started playing together when we were middle schoolers, and basically, for me, I was listening to bands like Blink182 and Green Day and a lot of pop-punk bands, and I’d listen to a lot of music and was really into it, and I’d watch the videos of them on tour and thought ‘Holy shit that looks like a lot of fun, and I want to do that.’ So I guess it all started just out of watching them and it looking fun and I wanted to do it.
And you guys are all pretty young. You’re 21?
Yea I just turned 21.
Do you guys find that you get shafted a lot, being that young band on tour?
I think promoters and club owners might think that we’re just kids, and not really respect us, but I feel like younger artists do get a lot of respect from musicians who are older and in the same spot that we are because we’re doing the same thing they are, but at a younger age. I think that’s impressive to some older musicians, but I guess some kind of get jealous, like ‘Oh here are these young kids doing the same thing I’m doing, what the fuck?’ But for the most part musicians appreciate it and think it’s a cool thing.
So how do you combat that? What do you do if they aren’t taking you seriously?
I don’t really worry about it too much. I don’t really sweat it. I just play my show and have a good time, and if the people who come to the show have a good time, I don’t really care. I don’t really need, or want the respect of some promoter or club owner; it’s not a really big deal. My job is to play music and hopefully put on a good show, so I don’t really think about it too much.
The AP Tour is underway, how’s it been going?
It’s been amazing. This definitely has been the best tour we’ve done, and certainly the biggest we’ve ever done. The response has been great every night, the shows have been doing really well – most of them have sold out or have been close to selling out and that’s great. And it’s cool to see, on our third or fourth time back in some cities, how our fan base has grown, and there’s more kids singing along; it’s cool to see the progression. And hopefully by the next time we come back, it will have grown a little bit more.
You talked a little earlier about your roots being in pop punk and other band members have talked about having pop influences, so do you find that when writing a song you try and go for that pop sound?
I think I’m the only member of the band who really doesn’t – I’m not really into pop music at all. I’m actually a pretty big hater on a lot of Top 40 music today, so I don’t like it. So (laughs) I’m the one who can’t answer that.
Well that’s alright. You’re doing the Alternative Press Tour, so there’s other influences there. What other pop-punk or pop-rock musicians do you admire, or is the band aspiring to be?
It funny man, I don’t even really listen to a lot of pop-punk anymore. That was really what kind of started me in music. Then in high school I was more into like the Drive-Thru Records, The Starting Line, The Early November, Something Corporate. Not pop-punky but still tied to that scene. I was really into that in high school, but now my musical tastes have changed, now I listen to a lot of, I actually like a lot of pop-country music. And I also like folky, indie stuff more like Bright Eyes and that’s kind of all I listen to (laughs).
So liking the pop-country, did that have a lot to do with the decision to do [Hoodwinked]? Because you’re doing all the T Swift songs?
Yea it really did. It was probably about two and a half years ago I just decided to turn on my country radio back home, and I was thinking ‘You know I’ve never really given this genre of music a chance, I should just flip through it,’ and one of the first songs that was on the radio at the time that I really gravitated towards was ‘Our Song’ by Taylor Swift. So I really liked the song, so I went and got the album and found out that I really liked her. And that was a little before the Fearless-mania, and I was really into that first record of hers, and then she put out Fearless, and I was really into that, and then my band members got really into her when she put out that record, so when we got asked to play Hoodwinked we all decided we’d play Taylor Swift songs. And I have way more fun playing her songs than the rest of them, it’s funny.
That’s pretty cool man. I’ve admittedly a pretty big Taylor Swift guy myself so that looked really cool to me.
It’s funny, we’ve actually been playing one of her covers we’re going to play at that show, we’ve been playing it on this tour so far. And it’s one of my favorite songs on out whole set in the AP Tour, the Taylor Swift song.
What song are you playing?
“You Belong With Me.”
So how about another tour, are you guys playing the whole Warped Tour this year?
Yea, we’re on the entire thing.
And that’s new, you’ve never done that in the past?
Yea we’ve never played Warped Tour before so it should be a good experience. I went to Warped Tour when I was in high school, so it’ll be cool to finally get to play it and be part of that.
So the last record, Love Like This, was just released pretty recently, but are you taking any time to write new material or are you just going with this record?
I think everyone always has ideas. I know John and Brian work on some stuff, and I’ve been writing some stuff of my own. I guess we’re all just working on things separately, and when it comes time to make a record we’ll probably bring it all together and try to put together another album. So there’s no plans of it really right now. It didn’t really come out that too long ago, but I think we all always have ideas in our heads and songs on the backburner that will someday see the light, but no plans yet.
So on another note, you’re a young artist, and growing up in the Drive-Thru era, what do you think of sites like thepiratebay or Strike Gently? Do you think they’re good or bad for the industry, do you personally like them?
I actually visit Strike Gently quite a bit (laughs). I actually visit torrent sites, I mean, I did that at age 13 and I still do it. And even though I’m an artist that puts out records, I really don’t have a problem with it at all. I feel like record labels, the way they have been in the past, it’s more of a dying breed now, and I think there needs to be a new way to market music, and there needs to be a new way to make money off of music other than selling records. And I think that the people who are stuck in the past, in the old way, it’s just going to all fall apart. There needs to be something new and innovative.
Kids are going to steal the music. The same kids who were going to buy your music are the kids who will buy it and the same kids who were going to steal it are always going to steal it. You really can’t stop it.
That’s interesting. And especially with Strike Gently because that’s actually where I first listened to your band was when he put up some music.
Yea it’s funny, every now and then it’s like ‘Oh, my band’s on there.’ And I’ll read the comments and someone will say ‘This band fucking sucks!’ and it’s just ‘I don’t really care. Whatever.’ (laughs). At least they’re talking about us.